Web directories have been going up faster than new search engines these days. More and more webmasters are starting to realize the benefits these "directories" may have on the overall promotion of your site or your clients site. The great part is there are many good directories out there. Consider it the "Golden Age of Web Directories" with so many to choose from you could spend all day submitting to them.
Yet, with all these new directories, does this mean they actually represent quality sources to obtain a link from? I have seen a lot of specific niche directories and large directories go up recently, and honestly I have been pretty disappointed with the construction, quality, and usefulness of them. I wouldn't pay nor dare submit my link to some of them. Most to those that look like they took 15 minutes and a cup of coffee to set up.
A thread over at High Rankings talks about this, and the differences between a link farm and a web directory. One of the members questioned a new directory advertising members linking to members. They quickly uncovered for him that this "directory" was really a link farm who purpose was to inflate link popularity. Unlike other directories where valid links to sites are within related categories, sites that participate in link farming contain links to totally unrelated sites. These days the lines are getting more blurred with webmasters making changes to directories to resemble more "link farmish" type settings (more urls per page and less organization) with a web directory facelift. Packaged and then promoted via spam to anyone's email address they can find. You know the ones I am talking about, "I just added your link to my directory, would you...". Yeah those.
Jill makes a good point that helps define the difference between the two better, in that a reciprocal link is not the same as members linking to each other". There are several definations for a link farm, their use has evolved over time in order to reflect trends and ways to get around methods of detection. One member asks whether a "link farm" is called a "link farm" if a search engine never spiders it or can not crawl the site? I guess this is like if a tree fails in the forest and no one is around to here it, did it really fall? A link farm is a link farm regardless. The best thing to do regarding link farms is to avoid them all together, and be wise to tricks to disguise them as something else.
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